Situations are beginning to change drastically around the Korean peninsula, with the North-South and US-North talks by their national leaders, raising the mood for conversations. However, Japan has many issues with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) over history, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, abduction of Japanese people, etc. Without sufficient methods and channels, solutions are not easily found. To overcome the mutual distrust between the two nations, it is necessary to encourage contact beyond national or governmental relationships. This can be done by reporting how the real people of North Korea look like and delivering information about Japan to North Korea, so both can better understand each other.
Children’s annual art exhibitions
Heavy rain and flood hit the northeastern part of the Korean peninsula in 1995. It was reported that 75% of the country of North Korea was seriously damaged. JVC provided emergency support during this disaster, joining other NGOs in the “Relief Campaign Committee for Children, Japan (RCCJ)” to keep giving a hand to the children of North Korea. Children’s art exhibition program JVC set up a committee for “children’s art exhibitions” in 2001. Since then, JVC has been offering opportunities for children to meet and interact at art exhibitions and workshops. These events have been held in many places such as, Japan, North and South Korea, and most recently China.
2017 was the 17th year of the program, in which JVC organized art production workshops in North and South Korea, China, and Japan. JVC also conducted “children’s art exhibitions” in Tokyo, Saitama, Osaka, and Fukuoka to display the art. The number of attendee children, supporters, and visitors totaled about 600, of which 50 were from North and South Korea. Apart from the exhibitions, JVC also rented 250 pieces of artwork to 6 separate events.
Exchange program of university students from Japan and North Korea
Since 2012, Japanese students have been communicating with North Korean students, who study Japanese, face-to-face in Pyongyang. Although without students this year, JVC continued the program in 2017 and visited North Korea in August, despite increased international tensions.
The group from Japan, which was the first step in building educational network supporting student exchanges, included peace researchers and Japanese language teachers other than JVC staff. In local interviews, Pyongyang’s university students said, “Let’s join forces to normalize the relationship between our countries.” Such messages were brought back to Japan and warmly welcomed.
With the cooperation of Mr. Hori Jun, a journalist, JVC also held two events detailing the work done in North Korea and succeeded in getting an audience that included a wide variety of people. Comments were received like “I have long supported stricter sanctions (against North Korea), but now I’ve come to rethink about its citizens who are supposed to live a life just like myself.”
[Source: JVC Annual Report 2017]Share This: